Union Serves Up Win for Grassroots Democracy
Portland, OR - The Burgerville Workers Union (BVWU) has signed a contract with Burgerville, becoming the nation’s first union contract at a self standing fast food restaurant. The contract was ratified by a membership-wide vote at Burgerville locations represented by the union over the last month with over 75% of workers participating. The contract grants exceptional rights and protections to a sizable fast food workforce and comes after more than five years of struggle and three and a half years of negotiations. The signing of the agreement also ends the boycott called by workers in February 2018.
Under the new contract workers will gain access to a three month set schedule, paid vacation time, paid parental leave, improved job safety, and greater job security through ‘Just Cause’ protections against arbitrary or unfair discipline. In addition to these improvements, previous union achievements such as wage raises, tipping, free employee shift meals and paid holidays will be formally enshrined in the collective agreement.
The contract comes after a long period of conflict and negotiations that included numerous strikes, public actions, and federal mediators. Many of the gains, such as changes in dress code and tip policies, are being extended to all restaurants in the company. Chief negotiator for the union Mark Medina says that, “We’re proud of the work we’ve done. This would not be possible without the courage and persistence of Burgerville workers who took action and stayed strong in solidarity with local labor and the community.” Fiona Marten, an organizer with the BVWU, added “Sure it was hard, but next time will be easier. If you’re a food service worker and wanna make this happen in your workplace, we want to talk to you”
The ratification vote was administered by the BVWU across all five stores with federal union recognition, namely the Convention Center, Montavilla, Hawthorne, Gladstone and 92nd and Powell. Over 75% of workers covered by the contract participated in the vote with 92% voting in favor. “The ratification process is an organizing process. It’s important that workers really understand what’s in the contract not just for the sake of democracy, but also to make sure they can use it on day one to protect themselves and build power for the next contract fight” said Luis Brennan, member of the negotiating team.
The Burgerville Workers Union is a labor union affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World, representing 100 workers across five Burgerville locations. Founded in 2016, the Burgerville Workers Union remains the only legally recognized union of fast food restaurant workers in the United States, inspiring organizing in the industry at such companies as Little Big Burger and Voodoo Doughnuts.
Contact: Mark Medina 971-239-3606